Every dog owner should know how to clean a dog’s ears as that’s an essential part of the grooming routine. Plus, cleaning your pet’s ears at home can help you identify health issues like built-up debris. 

We’ll guide you through the process and explain what tools you need to use to do it as safely and effectively as possible. Let’s break down the basics of dog ear grooming:

Ear Cleaning — Should It Be a Part of Dogs’ Grooming Regime?

A regular grooming routine is a must for our canine companions. And cleaning dogs’ ears is incredibly crucial because dirt, debris, or wax can clog the ears and cause infections

Keeping your dog healthy and grooming your furry friend regularly helps you stay up to date with their body changes. That means that you’ll take your pet to the vet in time if you notice something unusual. 

For instance, some of dogs’ favorite activities might put them at a greater risk. Swimming pools for dogs are a wonderful way to increase their physical activity and have fun, but if you’re not careful, they can also lead to infections. That’s why you need to know the best way to clean a dog’s ears.

Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears might also help you identify possible allergies. If you suspect an issue, you can conduct dog allergy testing at home. All you need to do is get a kit and send saliva or hair samples to see if your dog is allergic to anything. 

Which Breeds Are Prone to Ear Infections? 

Ear infections can happen to dogs of all ages or breeds. Still, those dealing with allergies, diabetes, or weak immune systems may be more at risk. Also, breeds with large, floppy, or hairy ears are likely prone to ear infections. Those include:

But how can you know if your dog has an ear infection? Let’s check the signs.

Signs Your Dog Has an Ear Infection

Ear care for dogs starts with knowing what to look for. The most common symptoms for infections include:

  • Sensitive ears. Since the ear canals are sensitive, infections can cause pain and discomfort. If your dog behaves strangely, like barking too much or scratching at the ear, that’s usually a sign something is wrong.
  • Red or inflamed ears. You may notice pus or a dark substance resembling ground coffee in your dog’s ear canal. 
  • Constant head shaking or ear scratching. Many dogs will do that to try and remove debris or fluid from their ear canal. 
  • Ear discharge with a foul smell or strange color. You might notice dark or yellow discharge in your dog’s ears.
  • Ear mites. These tiny creatures can find their way to your dog’s ear, causing irritation and inflammation. The veterinarian can diagnose the infestation by analyzing the debris from your dog’s ears. They can also recommend an antiparasitic dog ear cleaning solution to get rid of the mites.

Knowing these signs is an essential step before you start cleaning your dog’s ears. 

The Process of Dog Ear Cleaning 

Dog’s ears are healthy when they’re light pink on the inside and have a fur layer on the outside. Any discharge or strange smells can signal that it’s time for a cleaning. 

How Often to Clean a Dog’s Ears

You should regularly check the inside of your dog’s ears for any possible problems or infections. It’s best to make it a part of the dog grooming basics routine and look inside the ears at least once a week.

Still, how often you should clean your dog’s ears can vary. If you have a house dog, you may not need to do it often. But if your dog’s always spending time outside, it may require more regular grooming to remove the dirt it’s picked up.

Remember that you shouldn’t over-clean your pet’s ears. Too much cleaning can also be harmful. It’s necessary to do it monthly, but we advise you to check with your vet about dog ear wax removal.

How to Choose a Good Dog Ear Cleaner

A good ear cleaner should be mildly astringent and quick to dry.  

And you can use natural oils to do it. For instance, olive oil or even extra virgin coconut oil can help clean dirty dog ears. But first, warm the oil slightly by soaking the container in warm water for a while. That makes it more effective and comfortable for your dog. But note that olive oil isn’t very effective for ear mites.

You should never use water as it can stay in the ear, creating the perfect environment for yeast to grow. Also, never use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on a dog ear. These substances aren’t safe for your furry friend. Ask your vet for advice on the best dog ear cleaner for your pet’s specific ear issues.

Corgi with raised ears and a tongue sticking out

What’s the Proper Way to Clean a Dog’s Ears?

It’s an easy task that takes about 10 minutes. Here are some tips on how to clean a dog’s ears:

  • Educate yourself on the dog’s ear anatomy. Your dog’s outer ear consists of three parts: the pinna, the vertical ear canal, and the horizontal ear canal. You need to clean the pinna and the ear canal up to the eardrum. 
  • Set up a relaxed area to lower the stress. It’s best to initiate cleaning only when your dog feels calm. A good time for this is right after you’ve been grooming it or when your pet naps on the sofa.
  • Make sure you have vet-approved equipment. What to use to clean dog ears? If you plan to do it yourself, you’ll need a good ear cleaning solution, cotton balls, warm water, and a large towel.

How to Clean a Dog’s Ears Step by Step

It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s our guide on how to do it at home:

  • Fill the ear canal with a cleaning solution. How to use a dog ear cleaner? Squeeze a bit of the solution into your dog’s ear. You should use enough cleaner to fill the ear canal fully. Make sure the liquid is at room temperature. 
  • Massage and let your dog shake its head. Give a gentle massage to the base of the ear below the ear gap for about 30 seconds. Then, let your dog shake its head if it wants. That will help the remaining dog ear wash and matter from the ear canal move to the outer opening where you can easily remove it.
  • Gently clean the excess with cotton balls or rounds. Wipe the liquid from the interior part of the ear flap and the upper part of the hearing canal. If the cotton ball is very dirty, it’s best to repeat the entire cleaning process on that ear.
  • Dry the ears with cotton or a tissue. 

That’s it. But there are a few more tips you should keep in mind.

Things to Remember

Before you clean dog ears at home, remember the following: 

  • Cotton buds can hurt the ear canal. Never use cotton buds as they can damage the ear canal or push debris deeper into it.
  • Don’t touch the tip of the bottle to the ear. If that happens, wipe the tip off with a clean cotton ball soaked in alcohol to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • If your dog is anxious, don’t force it and visit a professional. You don’t want to traumatize your dog for life.
  • Finish with a treat. After cleaning dogs’ ears, provide a treat so your dog associates the ear cleaning with a positive experience. 


Ear cleaning is an essential part of dog grooming, especially for dogs with big, floppy, or hairy ears.

Learning how to clean a dog’s ears isn’t rocket science, but you should still be careful not to hurt your pet. If you find it too challenging, go to your vet. They’ll determine if your dog has ear mites, offer suggestions on fixing that, and clean the ears for you.

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